Taste CEO Carlo Gonzaga steps down after 18 years

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Cape Town – Carlo Gonzaga, CEO and co-founder of Taste Holdings which owns Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza franchises in South Africa, has resigned after 18 years at the company.

According to a notice issued to shareholders on Monday, non-executive director Tyrone Moodley will take over as interim chief executive. Gonzaga will remain employed by the food and luxury goods group for six months to assist the transition.

The announcement follows board changes made at the beginning of February.

“Despite being a co-founder I have always believed that I am a temporary steward of the company and that there would one day come the time to hand over the baton to a set of fresh eyes and legs.

“Given the recent changes to the board and shareholding I am of the view that the time is now,” Gonzaga said in the notice.

He added that he was looking forward to being a “real customer” at one of the Taste outlets. Taste’s food division includes Starbucks, Domino’s, The Fish & Chip Co, Zebro’s Chicken and Maxi’s and its luxury goods division includes NWJ, Arthur Kaplan and World’s Finest Watches.

In October 2017, Taste reported a loss of more than R65m in its interim financial results. The group announced it would undergo a capital restructure to reduce its long-term debt of R255m. On January 29 2018 the group reported to its shareholders that it had managed to raise R398m through a rights offer. The funds were used to settle debt of R273m, clearing its outstanding long-term debt.

“This achieves the stated goal of restructuring the balance sheet, materially de-gearing the business, and providing capital for the continued expansion of the group,” the notice read.

Gonzaga, who worked with Moodley for seven years while he was a shareholder before he was appointed a non-executive director in 2016, said he has confidence in Moodley’s ability to take over the reins from him.

Moodley is an investment adviser to Riskowitz Value Fund. The hedge fund has been shareholders of Taste since 2010 and recently increased its stake in Taste to 64.5%, according to the notice.

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